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Linking transportation and electricity emission in California: driven by EV penetration scenarios

February 9, 2021 by Utkarsh Akhouri

EVs are just beginning to emerge. Even though the stock and sales of EVs are growing, they are currently a small fraction of the market. However, they are set to influence the largest component of emissions in the WCI market. Transportation makes up 49% of California 2020 emissions and 73% of Quebec emissions. They will also heavily influence the electricity market in California which makes up 15% of California emissions.

Till date, the role of EVs has been limited, as outlined in Fig 1 and 2, showing that EVs represent less than 1% of the stock of vehicles on the road in California. In Quebec, this is even lower.

Figure 1: Stock of Clean Fuel Vehicles in California 2010 – 2019
Figure 2: Light vehicle distribution by fuel type in California 2019

California has a goal of 5 million ZEVs on the roads by 2030 (80% sales). Even if EV sales reach 80% of sales by 2030, it takes another 10 years before the stock of vehicles reaches that level. This can be interpreted as a lag effect on the expected impact of EV driven mandates on zero emission and climate goals.

Based on this target we have modeled the growth of EV for 3 scenarios and the results are presented in figure 3

  • Scenario 1: 100% Sales of ZEV by 2030
  • Scenario 2: 80% Sales of ZEV by 2030
  • Scenario 3: 65 % Sales of ZEV by 2030
Figure 3: No. of Vehicles (on road) and % share of electric vehicles 2020 – 2040

However, as the sales of EVs pick up, they are expected to have a two-fold impact:

  1. Reduced requirement of fuel, thereby reducing transportation sector emissions
  2. Increased requirement of electricity, which is likely to lead to increased electricity emissions in the mid-term (and will depend on how the electricity grid evolves to support this increased electricity demand).

While overall energy required by the state goes down, electricity demand goes up by 7% in 2030 and about 30% by 2040[1]. We see a steeper decline in emissions in the 2030-2040 timeframe (Fig 4), when (a) renewables become a mainstay and (b) electric vehicles start replacing a majority of the existing stock of gasoline-vehicles on the road. While the graph below is specific to California, a similar phenomenon is modeled for Quebec.

Sales of EVs in 2021 and 2022 will be leading indicators of the pace at which EVs will play a role in 2021-2030.

Figure 4: Transportation emissions and additional electricity emissions due to Passenger EVs in the state of California (Likely scenario) [2]



[1] Output from the CarbonOutlook model which presently extends to 2040

[2] The impact of greening in freight and commercial vehicles has not been factored in this scenario

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